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Maine NEW Leadership to Teach College Women Political Skills

The University of Maine will offer a six-day, public leadership training program for female college students that aims to strengthening political skills and build confidence.

A diverse group of 28 students with a variety of majors and interests from colleges around the state will arrive at UMaine on Friday, May 30 to take part in the sixth annual Maine NEW Leadership conference. They will learn skills such as public speaking, networking and how to advocate for a cause and run for public office.

Throughout the free conference, students will participate in a variety of workshops hosted by women leaders from politics, business and education. On Tuesday, June 3, participants will travel to the State House in Augusta and Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan.

“Maine NEW Leadership was established to address the underrepresentation of women in state and federal government,” says Mary Cathcart, co-director of Maine NEW Leadership and a senior policy associate at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.

In the current U.S. Congress, 18 percent of representatives and 20 percent of senators are women, and in the Maine Legislature, 23 percent of senators and 31 percent of representatives are women, according to Cathcart.

More information about Maine NEW Leadership is available online or by calling Cathcart at 581.1539.

Mayewski Featured in Showtime Series

It’s Showtime for Paul Mayewski. Check out the preview of the season finale of Years of Living Dangerously that airs at 8 p.m. Monday, June 9. The episode also features President Obama, Thomas Friedman and Michael C. Hall.


 

 University of Maine professor Paul Mayewski is featured in the Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously starring Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Matt Damon.

It’s a thriller with an ending that hasn’t been written yet.

Executive producer James Cameron, who has also directed the blockbusters Avatar, The Terminator and Aliens, describes Years of Living Dangerously as the biggest survival story of this time.

The documentary, developed by David Gelber and Joel Bach of 60 Minutes, depicts real-life events and comes with an “adult content, viewer discretion advised” disclaimer.

The nine-part series that premiered April 13 shares life-and-death stories about impacts of climate change on people and the planet.

Correspondents, including actors Ford and Damon, as well as journalists Lesley Stahl and Thomas Friedman and scientist M. Sanjayan, travel the Earth to cover the chaos.

They examine death and devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy; drought and lost jobs in Plainview, Texas; worsening wildfires in the U.S.; and civil unrest heightened by water shortage in the Middle East. The correspondents also interview politicians, some of whom refute the science or are reluctant to enact legislation.

And they speak with scientists who go to great lengths, and heights, to do climate research. Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI), is one of those scientists. He is scheduled to appear in the series finale at 8 p.m. Monday, June 9.

Climate change, he says, is causing and will continue to cause destruction. And he says how scientists and media inform people about the subject is important.

“There are going to be some scary things that happen but they won’t be everywhere and it won’t be all at the same time,” he says. “You want people to think about it but not to terrify them so they turn it off completely. You want them to understand that with understanding comes opportunity.”

In February 2013, Sanjayan and a film crew joined Mayewski and his team of CCI graduate students for the nearly 20,000-foot ascent of a glacier on Tupungato, an active Andean volcano in Chile, to collect ice cores.

Sanjayan calls Mayewski “the Indiana Jones of climate research” for his penchant to go to the extremes of the Earth under challenging conditions to retrieve ice cores to study past climate in order to better predict future climate.

Sanjayan, a senior scientist with Conservation International, wrote in a recent blog on the Conservation International website that while people may distrust data, they believe people they like.

He thought it would be beneficial to show the scientific process at work and to introduce the scientists’ personalities to viewers. “He’s the sort of guy you’d want to call up on a Wednesday afternoon to leave work early for a beer on an outdoor patio,” Sanjayan writes of Mayewski.

So for the documentary, Mayewski was filmed in the field — gathering ice cores at an oxygen-deprived altitude of 20,000 feet atop a glacier with sulfur spewing from nearby volcanic ponds. “It’s a strange place to work,” Mayewski says, “but it’s where we can find amazing, productive data.”

He was also interviewed at home, where he enjoys his family, dogs and sailing.

Mayewski likes the series’ story-telling approach. Scientists, he says, need to explain material in a way that is relatable, relevant and empowering.

Take for instance Joseph Romm’s baseball analogy. Romm, a Fellow at American Progress and founding editor of Climate Progress, earned his doctorate in physics from MIT.

On the Years of Living Dangerously website, Romm writes, “Like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace. And like a baseball player on steroids, it’s the wrong question to ask whether a given home run is ‘caused’ by steroids. Home runs become longer and more common. Similarly climate change makes a variety of extreme weather events more intense and more likely.”

Mayewski says it’s also imperative to provide tools that enable people to take action to mitigate climate change as well as adapt to it.

“When we have a crystal ball, even if the future is bad, we can create a better situation,” he says. “We have no choice but to adapt.”

Maine is in a good position to take action, he says, especially with regard to developing offshore wind technology. “Who wouldn’t want a cleaner world, to spend less money on energy and have better jobs? We will run out of oil at some point but the wind won’t stop,” he says.

Wind is up Mayewski’s research alley. He has recently been studying ice cores from the melting glacier that serves as the drinking water supply for 4 million residents of Santiago. Temperature in the region is rising, greenhouse gases are increasing and winds from the west that have traditionally brought moisture to the glacier have shifted, he says.

And the glacier is losing ice.

“Our biggest contribution is understanding how quickly wind can change,” Mayewski says. “Wind transports heat, moisture, pollutants and other dusts.”

By understanding trends, Mayewski says it’s possible to better predict where climate events will occur so plans can be made. Those plans, he says, could include determining where it’s best for crops to be planted and where seawalls and sewer systems should be built.

Harold Wanless, chair of the University of Miami geological sciences department, says sea levels have been forecast to be as much as 3 to 6 feet higher by the end of this century. On the Years of Living Dangerously website he says, “I cannot envision southeastern Florida having many people at the end of this century.”

In Maine, Mayewski says climate change is evidenced by the powerful 2013–2014 winter, the lengthening of summers, increased lobster catches and northward spread of ticks.

While climate change has become a political topic, Mayewski says it’s a scientific and security issue. He says it’s notable that previous civilizations have collapsed in the face of abrupt, extreme changes. And climate change, he says, is far from linear in the way it evolves.

For decades, Mayewski has been interested in exploring and making discoveries in remote regions of the planet. “When you go all over the world, you get a global view,” he says. “By nature, I’m an optimist. That is tempered with this problem. I do believe there will be a groundswell of people, or governments, or some combination so that there will be a better future in store.”

To watch clips from previous episodes of Years of Living Dangerously, as well as the entire first episode, visit yearsoflivingdangerously.com.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine Astronomy Professor, Grad Student to Travel to Chile

A University of Maine astronomy professor and graduate student will travel to Chile in July to spend one night of observation at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, east of the city La Serena.

The observatory is home to the newly developed Dark Energy Camera or DECam; the only one of it’s kind. The DECam is part of a 4-meter diameter Victor M. Blanco Telescope, which a few years ago was the largest in South America. The DECam is a set of 62 cameras totaling 570 megapixels.

David Batuski, a physics professor, and Andrej Favia, his graduate student, were allotted one night of observation with the telescope on July 2. The highly competitive proposal application process accepts about one in eight proposals.

Batuski and Favia will spend about four hours looking at two superclusters of galaxies in the search for dark matter, what Batuski calls “one of the greatest mysteries of cosmology right now.”

Dark matter makes up 27 percent of the universe’s content. All observed ordinary matter adds up to 5 percent, while dark energy accounts for 68 percent, according to NASA.gov.

Dark matter doesn’t generate or interact with light, making it only observable through deduction of other observations of its gravitational effects.

According to Batuski, the effects of dark matter have been observed on the small scale — seen as galaxies and clusters of galaxies with too much mass. It has also been observed on its largest scale — the entire universe.

Batuski and Favia’s research will attempt to observe dark matter on a medium scale — roughly 40 million light years — the first of its kind to their knowledge.

With only one night of observation Batuski and Favia are excited, but most of all are hoping for clear weather.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Two UMaine Students Win George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship to Study in Ireland

Two University of Maine sophomores have been named winners of the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship for the 2014–15 academic year and will study abroad in Ireland as part of the student exchange program.

George J. Mitchell Scholars Morgan Gustin and Hilary Warner-Evans will each spend a semester at the University College Cork in Ireland. The scholarship honors the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by Sen. Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom and is open to full-time undergraduate students in the University of Maine system.

The scholarship allows one student to study for a year in Ireland or two students to study for a semester each with all expenses paid, including airfare. This year — for the second time — both winners are from the Orono campus.

Gustin, an animal sciences major from Merrill, Maine, will study in Ireland during the fall 2014 semester. Warner-Evans, an anthropology major from West Bath, Maine, will make the trip in the spring of 2015. Both students are enrolled in the Honors College.

While in Ireland, Gustin plans to pursue animal science courses from a new perspective, specifically through integrating Ireland’s farming, livestock and agricultural techniques into her learning.

“Studying in Ireland will allow me to broaden my understanding of life in a different culture, expand my horizons within animal sciences, and gain experience that will help me decide whether my goal of living abroad long term is a desirable reality,” Gustin says, adding that she is looking forward to pushing herself out of her comfort zone personally and academically.

In the long term, Gustin aspires to explore a variety of areas within animal science, particularly field research on large animals and management practices within the context of a ranch.

She has worked as a student farm intern at the University of Maine Witter Farm Equine Cooperative and as a tour guide and carriage driver with Carriages of Acadia in Bar Harbor. At Carriages of Acadia she leads narrated historic tours of Acadia National Park and the carriage road system while driving and handling draft horse teams in a variety of situations.

Gustin also is a College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) Level 1 certified tutor for the UMaine Tutor Program and a member of the student leadership group for Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU). She has taken mission trips to Chile and Haiti as a member of CRU, volunteering her time to serve others and raise funds for the expeditions.

“I hope to return with an even deeper insight on how to step into the unknown and rise up to meet the challenges it presents,” Gustin says of her next adventure.

Warner-Evans, who is pursuing a degree in anthropology and aspires to become a folklorist, will study Irish folklore while abroad.

“Folklore is a discipline uniquely suited to celebrating both cultural variation and universality,” she says. “An understanding of it provides insight into both the specific identities of groups and the dynamics between them.”

Since 2012, Warner-Evans has volunteered at the Maine Folklife Center, where she has contributed to the center’s community outreach efforts by conducting research for its Maine Song and Story Sampler webpage. She also volunteers as a UMaine Conversation and Cultural Partner and is a member of Maine Peace Action Committee, the UMaine German Club and the Honors College Student Advisory Board.

“The Mitchell Scholarship will give me an unprecedented opportunity to broaden my understanding of the field of folklore, as it will expose me to a second interpretation of the discipline,” says Warner-Evans, who is currently working on a research project about reactions to the discovery of the North Pond Hermit and how those reactions relate to Maine identity.

Warner-Evans says she is driven by her dream of living in a world where tradition and tolerance are valued equally, and where groups with different views can take pride in their own identities while acknowledging that does not mean they are inherently superior to others.

“The ability to study folklore at University College Cork is an invaluable tool for me to further the implantation of my vision of a more tolerant and empathetic world,” she says.

More about the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship is online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Nursing Students Lead Community Health Projects

Residents of Hancock, Penobscot and Waldo county towns have benefited from three community health projects completed by University of Maine nursing seniors. The students conducted analyses to determine the health needs of each community and devised plans to address them.

Elizabeth Bicknell, associate professor of nursing, was the primary mentor for all three of the groups.

***

One group of six seniors collaborated with the Castine Fire Department, Castine Post Office and Vial of Life to distribute forms detailing medical history, medication and advance directives for residents to make available to first responders. Residents mark their front door with a red decal, which informs first responders that important medical information is affixed to the resident’s refrigerator using a matching decal.

Vial of Life is a nonprofit group that distributes the distinctive decals and medical forms to communities across the United States.

The group of six students started their project by performing a complete health history of Castine. They found there was a lack of emergency response services as a result of budget cuts, and decided to distribute the Vials of Life to residents at the Castine Post Office.

The students were Jacob McCrea and Margaret Dionne of Brewer; Renee Butler of Hampden; Melinda Grover of Newburgh; Thomas Gutow of Castine and Brian Coer of Madison, Connecticut.

***

Another group of seniors sought to educate kindergarten and first-grade students at Searsport Elementary School about proper hygiene. The nursing students used hands-on activities to show the importance of proper hand washing, as well as teaching facts about germs and a song to remind the children how long they should continue washing.

Targeting young children for hygiene education may help foster better hygiene practices throughout childhood and ideally into adulthood, the students said. It also should help reduce the spread of illness within the school, they added.

The students were Brittany Ames of Cumberland, Hilary Clark of Poland, Candace Work of Belfast, Emily Miliano of Cornish, Magalloway Field of Stratton, Joshua Hughes of Glenburn, and Brieana Evans of Bangor.

***

The third group partnered with the Brewer Community School and visited two seventh-grade health classes to educate students about healthy lifestyle and nutrition choices. Each nursing student devised an interactive activity based on a point of the “5-2-1-0 Let’s Go!” initiative, a childhood obesity prevention program.

The 5-2-1-0 initiative stands for five or more fruits and vegetables per day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one or more hours of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

The nursing students targeted obesity rates in Penobscot County because it has the highest rate in the state, they said. At the Brewer Community School, 47 percent of students are overweight or obese, according to body mass index (BMI) calculations.

The students administered a 10-question survey before and after the activities. They determined there was a 14 percent increase in scores after the children participated, suggesting a positive outcome.

The group consisted of four students: Janette Merritt of Deer Isle, Sean Sibley of Lincoln, Laura St. Pierre of Lewiston, and Olivia Tetu of Brunswick.

UMaine Names 2014 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has announced the 2014 valedictorian, Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and salutatorian Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass.

Both will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 10.

“Sierra and Jenn personify the best of the University of Maine undergraduate experience in their academic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to research and scholarship,” says President Ferguson. “We are proud of their achievements and their leadership in the UMaine community.”

Ventura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has been active in UMaine’s chapter of the National Association of Music Education, including two years as treasurer, and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her leadership roles on campus include serving as assistant conductor of the University of Maine Singers and of Euphony, the Orono-based chamber choir, both in 2013–14. The previous year, Ventura was the assistant accompanist of Collegiate Chorale.

Ventura also was a member of other musical ensembles in the UMaine School of Performing Arts, including Opera Workshop, Concert Band and Athena Consort, and she worked on the technical and events crews. Since 2009, she has had her own business, S.J. Ventura Music Instruction, teaching 35 students in piano, voice, flute, clarinet and saxophone. Ventura plans to pursue a graduate degree in music education at the University of Maine.

“UMaine has helped me shape my pursuits in the music education field,” Ventura says. “UMaine has also provided me the opportunity to connect with many veteran teachers and other professionals in my field throughout my undergraduate career, as well as give me tools to become a better private music teacher for my students. During my undergraduate career, I was also blessed to have met my fiancé during my time in University Singers.”

Chalmers will receive two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She has majored in English and history, with minors in education and Spanish, and received highest honors for her honors thesis, a historical and literary research project, entitled “Teaching Literature in America: Demonstrating Relevance in the Early Cold War (1945–1963).”

Chalmers is a member of multiple honor societies, including All Maine Women, Sophomore Eagles and Phi Beta Kappa. The UMaine Presidential Scholar Award recipient received Roger B. Hill Scholarships in both history and English, and the Ellis Prize in English. She also received a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

While at UMaine, Chalmers had two internships that advanced her professional writing skills. She was a human resources intern with the Massachusetts State Police in Framingham, Mass., and an English editorial intern with Pearson Higher Education in Boston, Mass. She was a journalist for the Maine Journal and a tutor for UMaine’s Writing Center. In addition, Chalmers was a student supervisor for Black Bear Dining concessions and a clarinetist in the UMaine Symphonic and Pep bands. Her community service activities included volunteering, serving as a note taker for UMaine Disability Support Services, and being involved in Autism at UMaine and the History Club.

“Since the moment I first visited UMaine, I have always felt at home,” Chalmers says. “I’m particularly appreciative of the way my professors have been so willing to help me achieve my goals and have always been on the lookout for opportunities that might be beneficial for me. I also really appreciate the wealth of opportunities that UMaine has provided outside the classroom. I have had so many opportunities to join organizations that I genuinely care about, gain leadership experience and make lasting friendships. My coursework, jobs and activities at UMaine have provided me with the experience that I have needed to get scholarships, internships and jobs, both inside and outside UMaine. The people, the organizations, and the generally encouraging atmosphere at UMaine have been invaluable to my personal, professional and intellectual growth during college, and I know that taking advantage of the opportunities that UMaine has to offer has allowed and prepared me to achieve my goals.”

Chalmers has accepted a position with Teach for America. For the next two years, she will teach secondary special education English in southern New Jersey and then will pursue graduate school.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Image Description: Ventura

Image Description: Chalmers

2014 Maine Studies Research and Creativity Award Winners Announced

The Maine Studies Program at the University of Maine has announced the winners of the 10th annual Maine Studies Research and Creativity Awards.

Each year the award is given to an undergraduate and graduate student — or group of students — to highlight exemplary student research related to the study of Maine. All UMaine research papers or projects related to Maine and created within the last year are eligible for the award.

This year’s undergraduate winner is a group of students: Benjamin Algeo, Shannon Brenner, Alexandria Jesiolowski, Joshua Morse, Victoria Schuyler and Braden Sinclair. Their interdisciplinary research project, “Building a Better Orono Together: Cultivating Organic Community Connection with University and Orono Stakeholders,” examined the relations between UMaine and Orono and exposed the students to the valuable practice of engaged research under the guidance of Robert Glover, an assistant professor of political science.

Hollie Smith is this year’s graduate winner. Her research paper, “Science and Policy in Maine: Opportunities for Engagement with the Maine State Legislature,” examines ways graduate students at UMaine might contribute more effectively to Maine’s policymaking process. Laura Lindenfeld, an associate professor of mass communication and media studies and public policy, supervised the project.

For the past 10 years, the University of Maine Foundation has provided financial support for the awards.

Applications Being Accepted for 2014 Summer FLAS Awards

The Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine announced it is accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Award.

The award is federally funded and is offered to students during the academic year and summer to support the bilingual research (English and French) of master’s and doctoral candidates whose studies focus on Canada.

Summer FLAS Awards are specifically aimed at developing language skills. The awards are open on a competitive basis to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who seek to improve their proficiency in French as a tool for graduate research.

Candidates must be willing to commit to six weeks of intensive French study. Programs covered by the award are offered in the U.S. for students with novice level of proficiency, and in Canada for students with higher levels of proficiency. The federal grant covers up to $4,000 in tuition and offers a living allowance stipend.

The Canadian-American Center is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Resource Center on Canada and provides the award as part of its mission.

More information, including how to apply, is available online.

Black Bear Food Guild Offering CSA Shares

The Black Bear Food Guild, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that is organized and managed by students in the University of Maine’s Sustainable Agriculture program, is offering CSA shares for the season.

In an effort to increase accessibility to fresh, seasonal produce for all members of the community, the Black Bear Food Guild is offering full, half and quarter shares. The 2014 season marks the first time the guild will be offering quarter shares, which are recommended for one person and an ideal choice for students. Quarter shares cost $175. Full shares are $475 and will feed four people, and half shares are $300 and will feed two people.

Shareholders can pick up produce each week at the university’s Rogers Farm. The guild’s season runs from mid-June through early October.

A limited number of shares are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in purchasing a share for the 2014 season should email the Black Bear Food Guild at blackbearcsa@gmail.com.

Since 1994, students have farmed two acres of MOFGA-certified organic vegetables and cut flowers on Rogers Farm. The farmers for the 2014 Black Bear Food Guild are Laura Goldshein, Lindy Morgan and Abby Buckland.

EMMC Announces Inaugural Chair of UMaine External Advisory Board

Ian Dickey, MD, FRCSC, lead physician of Eastern Maine Medical Center’s orthopedic surgical specialists, has been invited to serve as the first chair of the University of Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering’s new external advisory board, EMMC announced.

UMaine established the school in 2006 as a collaborative effort between the university, The Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, University of Southern Maine and University of New England. About 40 Ph.D. students and 100 faculty members are currently involved with the school, researching molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, toxicology and functional genomics.

“To move to the next stage, the program needs the advice of a high-powered, knowledgeable external advisory board,” said David Neivandt, director of the UMaine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. “This board, with Dr. Dickey’s leadership, will provide external counsel and perspective regarding scientific direction and curricula, assist in identifying and securing external funding, aid in networking for students and faculty, and serve as an advocacy role both internal and external to the university.”

The full EMMC news release is online.


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